The Great Northern

Following US‑2 through wide-open spaces is guaranteed to bring new meaning to the expression “getting away from it all.”

Black River Road and the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness

From Hwy-28 at Bessemer, Hwy-513 heads north toward the shores of Lake Superior, forming one of the U.P.’s many lovely scenic drives. Best known as the Black River Road, this 15-mile-long, densely wooded two-laner runs along the banks of the Black River, which drops over a series of well-signed waterfalls as it approaches the lakeshore; a good trail starts at a parking area about 13 miles from Bessemer. Nearby, the Copper Peak Ski Flying Hill (906/932-350) is the world’s tallest ski-jumping facility, its 25-story towers rising high above the forest. In summer, visitors with no fear of heights can take an “adventure ride” ($17) on the chairlift, then go up an elevator, then take stairs to the top for a great view of the forest, Lake Superior, three states, and Canada.

East of the Black River area, Michigan’s largest state park, the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness, covers 60,000 acres of serrated ridges and dense pine forests, including the largest swaths of virgin forest in the Midwest. The main outposts of civilization here (motels, restaurants, bars, etc.) are the lakefront towns of Silver City and Ontonagon; the latter is home to the park headquarters (906/885-5275). Both towns are about 20 miles north of Hwy-28, via Hwy-64 or US-45, respectively.

Black River Road
Copper Peak Ski Flying Hill
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness
Porcupine Mountains Visitor Center
Silver City
Ontonagon